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Arkansas Pushes School Districts To Demonstrate Racial Equity

The Arkansas Board of Education is taking a closer look at the racial balance of local districts' schools and staffs before approving their applications for state loans or proposed bond issues.

All of the 23 school districts that sought such approvals at the board's September meeting have been required to submit plans for eliminating problems of racial imbalance.

The tougher review standards do not constitute a formal change in policy, however, but represent "yet another step" by the board in its efforts to ensure equity for all students, said Herbert H. Cleek, deputy director of general education.

State officials have been criticized by the federal judge overseeing the Little Rock school-desegregation case for failing to insist that the district end discriminatory practices. As a result, the state has been ordered to pay for part of the district's costly desegregation plan.

Children from homeless families have a right to be educated in the town in which they live, the Massachusetts commissioner of education has ruled.

Commissioner Harold Raynolds Jr. issued the ruling in response to a case involving four children living with their parents in tents in Wompatuck State Park. The superintendent of the Hingham School Department, Lewis J. Ernst, had refused to enroll the children, arguing that the park was under state, not local, jurisdiction.

Mr. Raynolds concluded, however, that state law requires local communities to be responsible for the education of children within their boundaries, "irrespective of their living situation."

The students' mother, Kitty Montgomery, said last week that she had no plans to take the children out of the Norwell schools, where they enrolled after Hingham's refusal to admit them.

Vol. 09, Issue 04

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